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The Fuji X100 and the art of Wingshooting

An update on my initial impressions of the Fuji X100 


Shot with the Fuji X100 

Read the original article here

 I was determined not to write-off the Fuji X100, as, when you get it right the results are truly astounding. I spent a whole day just wandering around playing with it in earnest and, in the end, believe I have it mastered.

 What is required is a change in mindset, to see the camera for what it is and not to force into roles for which it is not designed. The biggest problem with the X100 is the size of the focussing square in the viewfinder. It is huge! If it could be made smaller - and maybe it can but I couldn't find a way to do so - most of the irritations I experienced would disappear.

 We've been taught to always focus on the eyes of a subject but the large focussing square of the X100 is, more often than not, larger than the subject's head and that's when the problems become apparent. A large proportion of shots end up with the background, rather than the subject, in focus and in situations where objects like cars move into and through the focussing square between the subject and the background...well, then you pays your money and takes your chances!

Change in thinking

 The solution in fact turned out to be simple and required just a change in thinking. Forget about focussing on the eyes of the subject, stick the square on their chest (it's wider so there is no overlap) lock focus and recompose. If the subject is further away, focus on the ground at the their feet, lock the focus, recompose, rinse and repeat.

 For really close-up shots, use the macro facility.

 With all of this in mind I took the camera to the streets to use it "in anger." I decided to let the cards fall where they may and left the Nikon at home. Did it work? Oh yes! Not a single shot out of focus.

 There is no doubt the process is considerably slower than it would be using a DSLR. The focussing and recomposing takes longer so, if speed is important then the X100 will drive you crazy. I definitely would not use it as the primary camera at a wedding, doing documentary photography. 

 The process is more akin to shooting with a medium format like a Hasselblad or Mamiya RB. There are a number of steps required of the photographer before the final shot is captured - and I like that. It's more contemplative and involved. 


 The more I think about it, the more I think the Fuji X100 bears comparison with my other great passion: wingshooting.

 A modern, over/under shotgun is a wonderfully efficient tool and can be relied upon to quickly and efficiently fill a bag. Yet, despite that, my favourite gun is a smoothbore muzzleloader designed in 1853. It's slow to load, belches smokes, is dirty and ancient technology but is so much fun, all its limitations and irritations pale into insignificance.

 Using it, my bag will always be smaller than those of a good shot using a modern gun. He'll shoot more, reload faster and be much more efficient. I'll have to work harder and think more. But when I get it right it is a thing of beauty.

 To me the DSLR is the modern, over/under shotgun - fast, blindingly efficient and...souless. The X100 is the muzzleloader - more tactile, a joy to hold, a thing of beauty and just downright fun. 

 I came away smiling after working the mean-streets with the Fuji X100 and maybe that's what it's all about.

 The truth is, I haven't had this much fun with a camera since... well since my 1917 Kodak Autographic.


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